Updated 03/20/2012 11:25 PM
Far Rockaway Playground Under Construction Receives Major Damage
A playground under construction in Far Rockaway, Queens was vandalized late Monday and Parks Department officials were appealing to the community for any tips on Tuesday. Borough reporter Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
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Looking at the broken plastic, mangled metal and bent iron at the Beach 29th street playground in Far Rockaway, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said the facility's June opening might be delayed and the damage will cost the city tens of thousands of dollars.
"We know that we lost a number of the slides, the platforms, some of the fencing, the climbing apparatuses have been damaged," said Lewandowski.
Parks Department officials said an excavator did the damage. The contractor says someone cut through a nearby chain link fence to get onto the property.
Once inside, the Parks Department said someone managed to start up the excavator and drove it about 100 feet, damaging everything in its path.
"Some of the damages, the upright poles that were damaged will require us to re-excavate the concrete and set the footings all over again, so this is major," said Lewandowski.
The city started construction on the park in 2010 as part of a $30 million playground restoration project to restore the playgrounds from Beach 9th Street to Beach 30th and create new water features and comfort stations.
The damaged playground also has a ball field which was undamaged.
"It's too bad. It's for kids and it's very sad that things like this are happening," said one local.
"Some people just don't care," said another.
The project is part of an effort by the city to help revitalize the area. Residents had spent years begging the city to provide more recreation and entertainment spaces.
"Short of the beach, there is really no way for the youth to play," said Queens Councilman James Sanders Jr. "Marching towards a better Rockaways, there is going to be some potholes on the way and we certainly have hit one."
The Parks Department says the project will continue, but the question at this point is when will it be completed.
Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.